My girlfriend Cindra and I have been friends forevah. We met as twenty-somethings in Manhattan where we lived and worked seeking our fame and fortune in show biz. We've been friends through divorce (mine), relationships, marriages, remarriages (mine), miscarriages, births (her beautiful daughter), deaths and just plain weathering the joys and pitfalls of life. For years now we've both been in LA (she in Beverly Hills - me in 'the Valley') but no matter how busy we are, we always make time to take each other out for a birthday lunch. This week it was my birthday lunch to her.
Over the years different restaurants have been favorites but have closed or fallen out of favor. The one restaurant that has been a constant is The Ivy. Yeh, that "Ivy" - the one often mentioned in gossip rags or TMZ... where celebs dine to prove to the world they're still married or not feuding, or to send tongues a-wagging if they're seated w/ a high profile director or a studio mogul or an ex-lover. The paparazzi go nuts when they're 'tipped' that a celeb whose photo is worth a ton of money will be at the restaurant for lunch or dinner. Sometimes the sidewalk and curb can be so crowded it's an Indie 500 challenge to maneuver your car to the valet parkers. And then, of course, it's pricy and I haven't quite found my fame and fortune... yet. Well, "so what," I say!!! Sometimes you just need to splurge and the restaurant is just so 'rustic, country French/cottage-y' pretty and the food is good and plentiful, and being there makes a person (well, me at least) just smile. So there!!! The 'smiling' reason alone keeps it a favorite.
And it really is pretty (see pix on-line). The Ivy may well be the only restaurant in Los Angeles surrounded by a white picket fence framing a charming patio filled with fragrant rose bushes, simple white umbrellas, white tableclothed tables and 'bistro'-style chairs with over-stuffed floral throw pillows. Inside this simple country cottage (and the restaurant really IS a cottage in the middle of one of Beverly Hills 'trendiest' streets) the dining rooms are filled with rustic 'flea market' antiques, lots of real flowers, floral fabrics, vintage pictures & paintings and so many 'shabby chic' touches it makes Rachel Ashwell seem mid-century modern... but we usually eat on the patio unless it's very, very cold (the patio does have heaters) or raining.
The forecast for our lunch date called for rain. But when we arrived, the weather was just overcast and cool, so we decided to go for it and eat on the patio. I got the seat by the heater.
The menu is a study of American comfort food w/ a California twist (which often translates to what I call Cal-Mex). I love the caesar salad, but because it was cool, I wanted a hot lunch. One of the day's specials was grilled rock shrimp tacos -- sounded good. Cindra ordered the warm grilled veggie salad w/ chicken (the salad can also be made w/ shrimp or a combination of chicken and shrimp). The portions are large. I got two very stuffed tacos, rice and white beans that we could have shared. And though I thought it was very good, I couldn't finish it all. The salad, too, was enough for two people and Cindra gave me a little plate (you think that's maybe why I couldn't finish my own lunch?) and it was delicious. Another favorite of ours is The Ivy's chicken tostado. Again, a very generous salad and really tasty.
As we sipped our ritual Bloody Marys (the old-fashioned kind of Bloody Mary, not the restaurant's spicy Cajun version), ate our entrees and caught up on each other's lives, the movies we'd seen, the books we'd read, the weather remained dry. We pushed our luck and ordered some espresso and tea and continued to just enjoy the afternoon and our conversation. The drizzle came w/ the check, but I didn't care if I got a little wet, I was going home. But as Cindra drove away and the valet brought me my car, the heavens opened up.
As they say in show biz... Timing is everything.
113 N. Robertson Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA